Northwest Area Education Agency (AEA) recently welcomed several new employees to the organization:

Dr. Dan Cox has been named the chief administrator for Northwest AEA. He will be responsible for planning, organization and implementation of all aspects of the of the agency, including special education, educational services, media and information technology. Dr. Cox most recently served as the superintendent for the Charles City Community School District.

Andrea Wilson was hired as an early childhood teacher consultant.  In this role she will be responsible for working with families, service providers, and early childhood teachers to support the development of children from birth to age 5.  Wilson earned her master’s degree in teaching from Morningside College and has worked the past six years for MMCRU School District co-teaching special education in preschool classrooms.

Brooke Fossum and Amy German have both been hired as educational sign language interpreters.  Fossum recently graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls with a bachelor’s degree in Sign Language Interpretation. German holds her sign language interpreter license from the Iowa Department of Public Health and previously worked for the South Sioux City Community School District for 18 years as a sign language interpreter.

Jodi Kerns, Valerie Sitzmann, Kristin Wilshire and Amy Benson have all been hired as educational consultants in the Educational Services division of the AEA. They will assist school personnel and AEA staff in the development, improvement and implementation of curriculum, instruction and assessment methods. Kerns has a master’s degree from Morningside College with specialized training in reading, Comprehensive Intervention Model and Reading Recovery. Sitzmann has BS degree from the University of Iowa and holds endorsements in language arts and math. Wilshire has her master’s degree from Wayne State College in Curriculum and Instruction and has an PK-8 administrative certification also from Wayne State College. Benson holds master’s degrees from Morningside College (Administration) and Wayne State College (Curriculum and Instruction). Kerns worked for the past 28 as a reading and math interventionist for the Maple Valley/Anthon-Oto School District and Sitzmann taught both middle school language arts and math at the Kingsley-Pierson school district. Wilshire worked for 18 years for the South Sioux City schools as a teacher, assistant principal and principal at the elementary and middle school levels. Benson—in addition to teaching for 16 years—most recently was a shared curriculum director for Lawton-Bronson, Woodbury Central and Whiting school districts.

Andrea Scheitler, Melinda DeLeeuw, and Cynthia Nelson will serve as special education strategists. They will facilitate all aspects of the provision of special education and support and related services in assigned schools.

DeLeeuw has taught special education at various grade levels and most recently worked for the George-Little Rock school district as an elementary special education teacher. She holds a master’s degree in teaching from Morningside College and has completed Reading Recovery training at the University of Northern Iowa. Scheitler has a specialist’s degree in School Psychology from the University of Nebraska—Kearney and worked the last nine years as a school psychologist at Central Rivers AEA in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, area.  Neilson worked for the past three years as a counselor for the Walthill Public Schools in Nebraska and has additional experience working for the Department of Human Services and the Boys and Girls Home. She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Iowa.

Rachel Burns, McKenzie Reuter, Emily Kallsen and Sara Westhoff are speech-language pathologists who will provide specialized evaluations, instruction and consultative services for children who have communication delays and disorders and by helping teachers with student skills in articulation, literacy, language curriculum, stuttering and voice disorders. 

Westhoff and Kallsen have recently graduated from the University of South Dakota with master’s degrees in Speech-Language Pathology. Westhoff served as a speech-language pathologist for two years at Prairie Lakes AEA in the Storm Lake area and Kallsen worked for one year at Green Hills AEA as a speech-language pathologist. Reuter earned her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology this past May from the University of Northern Iowa. Burns has several years experience working as a speech-language pathologist, including time with Tustin Unified School District in California and most recently with Prairie Lakes AEA in Fort Dodge.

Dawn Derochie was recently hired in the role as building coordinator/material handler in the Sioux Center AEA office where she will provide support to the media division.  Derochie was previously employed by the Le Mars School District.

Patrick Collins was hired as a graphic design technician at the AEA where he will work in the media division creating and producing graphic and visual design products for schools throughout northwest Iowa.